22 July 2016

Hungary’s lowest high water mark

…Is located in the community of Gerjen, Tolna county, on a recently renewed house at the height of an ankle. All description mention that the high water mark from the year 1893 is located on the reformed church, but there is nowhere to be found.

The lowest high-water mark (photo: Gergő Szombathelyi)

If we take a closer look at the corners of the table and the missing screws it become most likely that the table has been removed from the church and had been replaced here. Maybe this was the original place of the mark an it was taken down by force from the same place before the renovation.

The date of the mark is also interesting. In Hungary it is a tradition to mark almost every exceptional high water with tables like this (the most famous are marking the 1838 icy flood in Budapest and several other places), but this seems to be the only one marking the flood of 27th february 1893.

The Danube caused much trouble in the community of Gerjen in the 1890s. On March 13th 1891 the levee broke nearby and the icy Danube flooded the village. Two years later the Danube visited Gerjen again. On February 27th 1893 floating ice has been stuck in the Várszeg river bend  4 kilometers downstream. Frozen water cemented the ice together and it functioned as a huge ice dam across the Danube. The rising water breached the levee again, and Gerjen has been flooded once more. This flood affected only a small territory, maybe that is why the only high water mark from year 1893 can only be found in Gerjen.

A flood ankle high (photo: Gergő Szombathelyi)

Despite the flood only reached the footing of the houses the community considered this flood remarkable enough to create a high-water mark to remember. They managed to create a hydrological rarity, the lowest high-water mark in Hungary.

Exact location.

Thanks for the idea, Gergő Szombathelyi!

28 April 2016


Since 1875 there is no flowing Danube water in Vienna's Heustadlwasser.  This was one of the many side-arms of the river now hiding in Prater park. Nowdays it is feeded by precipitation and ground water only. The Viennese river regulation measures has cut it off from the Danube and was mostly filled in with construction waste. The remaining parts can be found near the Ernst Happel stadium, it's lower third is cut through by the Prater's long alley.

Tina Blau: Heustadlwasser, Prater 1877

Despite the always windy weather in Vienna I happen to visit this Danube side arm in a period of calm. The sun has just risen and there was absolutely no wind. The Prater became slowly populated by runners, hikers, cyclists. There was a stillness in the air despite a highway is cutting through the park. These pictures (and the Danube as well) are reflecting this morning atmosphere. 

Plan of the Heustadlwasser in Vienna

If you visit Vienna it is worthy to explore these hidden side arms of the long lost Viennese Danube, reflecting the pre-1875 landscape.

10 February 2016

Ghost on the Danube

There is a spectre haunting these pictures. Visions of a long lost Danubian world coming alive again, like a ghost in an ancient manor house on Alexandru Cristian Beșliu's pictures. He uses Danube View, Google's new development like an expert, on which we can see the river's most scenic part just like as on board of a cruiser ship. Old postcards stick to the Danube View in the Iron Gates, where an island, Ada Kaleh sleeps her dream 33 meters below the Danube's surface.  

A view on the Danube from a porch of Ada Kaleh (imege: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)
Alexandru Cristian Beșliu uploads these postcards pinned to the Danube View images to his own album on facebook. There is a minor distortion, because the Iron Gate I. hydroelectrical dam has been risen the Danube's surface since the pictures were taken, so there is at least 33 meters between the water level of Danube View and of the postcards. The main guidelines are the mountain ranges. 

Images of  the drowned island are not only shocking for those who lived there. We know of many villages like Ada Kaleh, drowned in a reservoir. We may get goose-bumps of the past little enclave of Turkey. The surrealistic view could be intensified with the divers stumbling on the bottom of the Danube.

Turkish houses on the Austrian walls (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Mosque transformed from a XVII. century Franciscan monastery with the old minaret in 1909. (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

The mosque's new minaret. (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Mosque of Ada Kaleh, built in the 1720s (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

A view on Ada Kaleh (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Many houses were build on the old fortress wall, due to the floods. (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Water sparkling in the moat (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Ruins of the fortress which gave the name of the island (Ada means island and Kale is fort in Turkish language) (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)
The port of Ada Kaleh (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Ghosts amongst the ruins... (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Characteristic Turkish tombstones in the cemetery, located in the eastern part of the fortress. (image byAlexandru Cristian Beșliu)

The island from the Romanian side - the blue road sign says: Ada Kaleh (image by: Alexandru Cristian Beșliu)

Let's hope there will be more pictures where these came from, and will be no more drowned village like Ada Kaleh! 

13 October 2015

Danubian Island of the year - 2015

This is the third time the Donauinseln blog starts its poll for the Danubian Island of the year. You can vote for the three nominated islands between 13th October and 31th December 2015. 

The aim of this poll is to focus attention on the mostly unknown islands of the Danube. Most of you probably visited the Seychelle Islands before any Danubian Island. As we stated this is the third poll, and we hope we have started a tradition and more-and-more people will learn about these islands across the Globe.

The winners so far (please note this is a Hungary-based blog):
2013. Kompkötő Island, Vác
2014. Helemba Island, Esztergom

This year our readers have selected two islands in the qualifying rounds. We start the introduction with these, and right after them follows the island we thought worthy enough to participate in the poll. 

Although the Kismarosi island is no longer an island for about 80 years, and its side river arm is mostly silted up and the fresh water of the main Danube seldom reaches it is an unique paradise for aquatic birds, turtles and rare species of plants. It also has a cultural-historical importance; a Hungarian explorer of India, Ervin Baktay held his famous western camp (with American natives and cowboys) each summer between the two world wars on the Kismarosi island. 

Its location near Vác, where the river turns south in Hungary:

This is a real island on the Danube, which means it is uniquely surrounded by water all year. It is a rather young formation, not long ago it was only a gravel bar without plants on it. By this time this unaccessible strip of land became a popular place for the locals and the tourists as well. This island was almost excavated during the construction works of the nearby Nagymaros hydroelectric dam, fortunately they stopped the construction, so this island could remain in the Danube Bend. 

Location in the Hungarian Danube-bend:

Gornja Siga Island
(Officially in Serbia, according to Serbia it belongs to Croatia, as known worldwide: Liberland)

We had a post on the troublesome Danubian border between Serbia and Croatia. Looks like some Czech guys have read this post and decided to take advantage on the situation: they proclaimed a new country on the Great Siga Island, called Liberland. This was the leading news around the globe for months, but meanwhile the Croatian authorities fined everyone who wanted to enter their "homeland 300 euros. That is why the Donauinseln blog had to postpone the planned expedition.

Location on an old Hungarian map (1902):

The poll will be closed at midnight 31th December 2015. The results will be available in the first post of the year 2016.

10 October 2015

Extreme low water on the Danube 2015

This year's hot summer combined with lack of precipitation have brought extreme low water levels on the Danube river. The blog asked its readers to send pictures if they found something interesting emerging from the riverbed, or they only find the landscape different from the usual. It looks like the low water will last well into autumn and with the drained catchment area we have to prepare for even lower water levels. 

Lowest water level measured at Budapest in 2015.

According to the summer forecasts the level of the Danube was far from the lowest value ever measured, but we advised not to leave our camera at home. During September and October the water level fell steadily to the value of 63 cm at Budapest which is only 12 cm above the lowest. 

But why are we interested in shallow water? - usually the floods draw more public attention. In times of low water Danubian depths reveals itself. Sand and gravel bars, holes in the riverbed, dykes etc. But while walking on the riverbanks you might find wrecks of ships, artifacts sunk long ago. The diving archaeologists are happy, they can work without their work-clothes. Europe's largest river shows us a different perspective, rather a desert than a river. 

There are also those who are not quite happy with low water. For example those shipmen who can not work for weeks in this situation. Or the environmentalists who are unable to help when they see tons of dying fish and shell in the drying river arms. 

So far the lowest value in Budapest ha been observed in 1947, 6th of November.  This was 51 cm. At the Vác gauging station it was -45 cm on the 29th of August. This is not a typo, the water level can go below the lowest point of the gauging station, then they have to extend it downwards. Unfortunately this is not a rare occurrence. 

If you happen to wander the banks of the Danube, do not forget to take pictures of the most interesting sights, and please send them (with the place, time and date) to our email address of facebook site

These are the received pictures so far (from earliest to latest): 

Jendricsné Vörös Dóra: Riverbank at Kisoroszi, 2015.07.17. 18:30 Budapest water level: 160 cm

Kurdi Imre: Felsőgöd beach. 2015.07.19. Budapest water level: 147 cm

Zirig Árpád: Mouth of the Morgó creek, Verőce 2015.07.22. 20:00 Budapest water level: 138 cm

Zirig Árpád: Mouth of the Morgó creek, Verőce 2015.07.22. 20:00 Budapest water level: 138 cm
Horváth Tibor: Alsógöd, volcanic tuff breaking the water. 2015.07.23. 22:30 Budapest water level: 139 cm 

Riverbank beneath the stone wall in Verőce.  2015.07.25. 17:00. Budapest water level: 139 cm 

Riverbank beneath the stone wall in Verőce.  2015.07.25. 17:00 Budapest water level: 139 cm 

Horváth Tibor: Alsógöd, volcanic tuff breaking the water. 2015.07.26. 9:40 PM. Budapest water level: 137 cm

 Szilágyi Csilla: Inn, Duna, Ilz - Passau: 2015.07.26.

Cigány sandbank, Mohács

Kurdi Imre: Sződliget 2015.07.28. Budapest water level: 135 cm

Kurdi Imre: Sződliget, mouth of the Sződi creek. 2015.07.28. Budapest water level: 135 cm

 Alsógöd beach, 2015 08.01. 9:00 Budapest water level: 139 cm

Oligocene clay in Alsógöd

  Dunakeszi ferry 2015.08.01. 9:30 Budapest water level: 139 cm

Mouth of the Csurgó creek in Dunakeszi. 2015.08.01. 9:30 Budapest water level: 139 cm

Gödi Island, dam. 2015.08.01. 15:30 Budapest water level: 147 cm

Gödi Island northern side 2015.08.01. 15:30 Budapest water level: 147 cm

 Kovács Miklós: Kacsa Island, Pócsmegyer 2015.08.05. Budapest water level: 145 cm

Kovács Miklós: Kacsa Island, Pócsmegyer 2015.08.05. Budapest water level: 145 cm

Kovács Miklós: Római-part, Budapest 2015.08.05. Budapest water level: 145 cm

Kovács Miklós: Inlet of the Palotai Island in Budapest 2015.08.05. Budapest water level: 145 cm

Wirker Károly: Süttő, Sandbanks near Madár Island 2015.08.11.

Sziget festival, Óbudai Island northern side 2015.08.13.

Schmidt Ádám József: Mouth of the Ördögárok in Budapest 2015.08.13. 10-11 AM Budapest water level: 107 cm

Vessző Katalin: Római part, Budapest 2015.08.14. morning. Budapest water level: 113 cm
Vessző Katalin: Római part, Budapest 2015.08.14. morning. Budapest water level: 113 cm

Vessző Katalin: Római part, Budapest 2015.08.14. morning. Budapest water level: 113 cm

Vessző Katalin: Gravel bar at Szentendre 2015.08.14. afternoon. Budapest water level: 114 cm

Kürti Gábor Dezső: Helembai gravel bar 2015.08.15. Budapest water level: 109 cm (Szob: w. l. -17 cm)

Tarr Dominik: Kis-Háros Island, Nagytétény 2015.08.16. 2-3 PM Budapest water level: 98 cm

Tarr Dominik: Kis-Háros Island, Nagytétény 2015.08.16. 2-3 PM Budapest water level: 98 cm

Becz Miklós: Dunaszekcső, riverbank full of loess cemented by calcium carbonate

Bucsek Tamás: Vác,  2015.09.20. evening. Budapest water level: 95 cm

 Horváth Tibor: Sand bar below the Megyeri bridge. 2015.09.22. Budapest water level: 76 cm 

Horváth Tibor: Alsógöd, the volcanic tuff outcrops in the Danube. 2015.09.22. Budapest water level: 76 cm 

Sand bar of the Szentendrei Island, 2015.10.04. Budapest water level: 72 cm

The Szobi and Helembai gravel bar, behind them the Helemba Island. 2015.10.05. Budapest water level: 67 cm